Mines, Jharkhand, black money, the coal mafia, and Maoism. Nothing that a pinch of good old Gandhism can't cure, eh? Yes, interesting.
Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad and Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad, in association with the Documentary Circle of Hyderabad, are screening Buru Sengal (The Fire Within), a documentary by Shriprakash, on 26th June. This is being presented as part of "Point Of View", a monthly groupthink series organized by Goethe Zentrum.
The Fire Within draws a portrait of the transformation of the land of the Tana Bhagats, a sect of the Oraon tribe who were believers of non-violence and Gandhian philosophy.
It talks about how, in 1775, the first coal mine was blasted in the Raniganj area in present-day Jharkhand. The indigenous people who owned this coal-rich land were dispossessed by the British. Then came the railways, and large-scale coal extraction began. 25 years after independence, the coal industry was nationalised. The situation worsened as the coal mafia and corrupt bureaucracy ushered in a culture of pervasive violence.
Today, while approximately Rs. 1,000 crores go to the government as royalty from the coal mines, four to five thousand crore rupees are siphoned away as black money from the coal industry.
The people who owned these lands are left to languish. River Damodar is the most polluted river today, the open mines are on fire, there is no water and the land has turned infertile. Now, the whole area is under control of underground Maoist guerilla groups.
The documentary was screened at several film festivals and also won several awards, including the Best Film Award, XVIII Black International Cinema, 2003; Grand Jury Award, Film South Asia '03; Special Jury Mention, Earth-Vision Film Festival 2002; Film Festival in Asian Social Forum, 2003, Hyderabad; 9th Energy Film Festival, Lausanne, 2003; and Documentary Film Festival, Istanbul, 2003.
Entry is free for everyone. Please contact Goethe-Zentrum at 6552-6443 / 2324-1791 for further details.